Update 2: During the felony bond hearing against the two long-term veterans of the force, attorneys for the officers described how their clients, while on their way to the academy for training, stopped to talk to a group they thought suspiciously hanging out near closed businesses. The officers reportedly noticed one of the individuals in the group was wearing a cross-body bag that is now common to the city as a new way to carry a pistol, which Judge Maryam Ahmad acknowledged during the hearing was indeed a common and reasonable suspicion due to her experience in court.
This suspected armed individual and another man carrying a wine bottle and a phone in one hand and nothing in the other began walking toward the officers. As they approached the officer's car, the armed individual (who later was discovered to be a juvenile) turned and began to run while the unarmed man waved his empty free hand at the officers in the car. According to prosecutors, it was at that time that Officer Reynoso discharged his firearm striking the unarmed man, and then Sgt. Liakopoulos also fired his weapon through the passenger window. The man was shot three times total, but survived the incident. A pedestrian also suffered a graze wound.
At this same time, the armed juvenile was running away yet turned and fired multiple rounds in the direction of the officers. The two officers then also fired at the armed juvenile, who was not struck - nor were the officers.
During the investigation in the immediate aftermath, prosecutors allege that both officers gave statements that they did not fire their weapons until they were fired upon, however, Officer Reynoso's attorney further argued that his client was interviewed within 24 hours of the incident and, due to the speed in which the encounter occurred, any allegations to the statements he gave as contradicting or lying to investigators is completely false.
Judge Ahmad ordered each officer a $25,000 bail (of which they must pay 10% for release).
Update: The officers have completed their felony bond hearing and additional details will be added shortly.
CHICAGO (AP) — Two Chicago police officers face felony charges for allegedly shooting and seriously wounding an unarmed man during a July shootout on the city’s southwest side that also wounded a second man, authorities said Friday.
Sgt. Christopher Liakopoulos, 43, and Officer Ruben Reynoso, 42, have been charged with one count each of aggravated battery with a firearm, aggravated discharge of a firearm, and official misconduct, said Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx.
Foxx said the officers were relieved of their police powers on Thursday before they turned themselves in to authorities. Both were slated to appear for a Friday afternoon bond court hearing, she said.
Foxx said both officers "are being charged with having fired their shots" that wounded an unarmed 23-year-old man on July 22 in the city’s Pilsen neighborhood.[1:1] That man has since recovered and is cooperating with the investigation, she said.
"The victim who was shot and injured in this incident was not in possession of a weapon, nor did he fire a weapon at these two officers," Foxx said during a news conference.
After the shooting, police said in a statement that two officers who had observed four people loitering in front of a closed store stopped to investigate and identified themselves as police.
Police said one of the four in the group then displayed a handgun and an exchange of gunfire ensued in which the 23-year-old man suffered gunshot wounds and was transported to a hospital in serious condition. A 36-year-old man who was passing by suffered a graze wound to the leg and was taken to a hospital for treatment, police said.
Foxx said that based on a review of the evidence, including video surveillance footage, prosecutors believe "the officers involved in this incident did not have provocation or justification to shoot the unarmed" 23-year-old man.
Foxx did not provide some of the details about what transpired, including whether the person who allegedly showed the officers a handgun actually fired on them, whether that person was arrested afterward and whether the wounded 23-year-old man was among the group police approached in front of the store. She said further details would read out during or after the bond hearing.
"The evidence does not support the use of deadly force related to the shooting of the unarmed victim, and was not lawful," Foxx said.
After the shooting, Foxx said, the two officers "made representations to legal authorities, including the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, that was directly contradicted by the videotaped evidence."
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability is investigating the shooting and has a deadline of Sept. 22 to release materials related to the shooting, including videos, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
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Notes & References
Press, Associated. “Two People Shot in Gun Battle with Chicago Police Officers.” Chicago Journal. Chicago Journal, July 22, 2022. https://www.chicagojournal.com/two-people-shot-in-gun-battle-with-chicago-police-officers/. ↩︎ ↩︎
Dudek, Mitch, and Tom Schuba. “2 Chicago Cops Charged with Felonies in Pilsen Shooting. 'They Shot Me for No Reason'.” Times. Chicago Sun-Times, September 16, 2022. https://chicago.suntimes.com/crime/2022/9/16/23356665/pilsen-shooting-chicago-police-miguel-medina-official-misconduct. ↩︎
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